Monday, June 10, 2013

Multi-Talented Artist Zena Allen

"I am a self-trained artist who uses the mediums of storytelling, music,  painting, sculpture, and installation. In my art, I explore universal themes of matriarchy, cultural knowledge and preservation that are cross-cultural in their significance. My subjects are often women, relatives, and Indigenous deities of the African and Asian Diaspora. By situating them in a reverential context, I am able to retrieve historical narratives and illuminate mythical lore that have been subjugated in conquest, and rendered to the periphery of cultural significance.

I construct material spaces that offer a place of reprieve from mechanized culture; within these arenas, Deities and traditions can interact with the physical world. By doing so, I create a place of refuge for myself, and others, to consider our ancestral past and reconnect to our present cultural identity."

-Zena Allen, 2013


Zena Carlota Pearl Allen is a self-taught artist who currently resides in the Bay area. In 2010, she began creating drawings for the first time in 13 years informed by Mithila art: a folkloric painting tradition of Indian and Nepalese women. She is deeply inspired by her personal research of folklore, oral histories, and the iconic imagery she encountered while living in East and West Africa as a teacher and student, respectively. Studying the music and storytelling tradition of “Jaliyaa” as a kora player (West African harp) for the past six years has placed her on a journey that is a natural progression to apply in her own art the same themes of ritual and tradition found in West African music. To learn more about Zena, go to

1 comment:

  1. Zena Allen is an amazing artist! Her paintings depict the deep history and richness of indigenous cultures. I have yet to meet her and see her work in person. I look forward to hearing about her on an even more broader scale.


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